The Ohio Woman Who Won President Obama’s Health Care Heart

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Natoma Canfield is 52, a cat lover and a breast cancer survivor.
She also is a key part of the story President Obama tells in explaining his commitment to the health-care overhaul that many believe has cost him politically.

CANFIELD: “For years and years, Natoma did everything right. She bought health insurance, she paid her premiums on time….”

And two years ago, she sat down and wrote a letter to President Obama.

CANFIELD: “I never expected the president to actually read my letter. But I wanted somebody, somewhere to know that I cancelled my insurance.

And, she wanted them to know why.

CANFIELD: “You know with everything I had in it, I kept it, you know as long as I could. I cut back everything I had. I just couldn’t pay any more. I didn’t make that much. And it was taking all of my money to pay my health insurance, and I wasn’t using that for cancer things because my cancer was gone, my breast cancer was operated on and I didn’t have it any more.”

What she did have, and didn’t know at the time she cancelled was another form of cancer.

CANFIELD: “As soon as I cancelled my insurance, a few weeks later my worst fears were confirmed I collapsed while I was working and they rushed me to the hospital and followed with a diagnosis of leukemia.”

All of that was in the letter that Mr. Obama read and framed and hung on his wall.

OBAMA: "I carried Natoma’s story with me every day of the fight to pass this law.
It reminded me of all the Americans, all across the country, who have had to worry not only about getting sick, but about the cost of getting well,” he said. “Natoma is well today. And because of this law, there are other Americans — other sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, fathers and mothers — who will not have to hang their fortunes on chance.”

Canfield says the law has shortcomings, but …

I’m glad that it passed. I’m glad the Supreme Court viewed it as legal. And I view it as a start. I don’t think it’s perfect, but it’s going to help a lot of people.

She says her cancer is in remission, while she continues treatment that for a condition that is fast-tracked for Medicaid and Medicare


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